(Take It Or Leave It)
Despite producing the original sessions, Teo Macero was not involved in putting the set together, and is adamant that they should never have been released in this form. “I hate it,” he says. “I think it’s a bunch of shit, and you can quote me on that. And I hope you do. It has destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. It’s a terrible thing to do to an artist when he’s dead. Those records were gems, and you should leave them as gems.”
It’s too bad most people think of “Bitches Brew” when the subject of electric Miles comes up, because it’s one of the least interesting of the period. Along with Agartha and Dark Magus, it would be an easy to think the whole era a funked up bore. It was that way for me until I got hold of “The Complete On The Corner Sessions”. I was familiar with Bill Laswell’s “Panthalassa”, but distrusted his approach. I don’t always like his interpretations, for instance his re-imagination of Bob Marley is pretty terrible.
I’d never heard the original “On The Corner”, but it’s reputation is pretty poor as many of his Jazz fans found the long funky pieces “not jazz”, and boring. I loved the unreleased jams Teo thinks are shit. It’s what opened my ears to Miles. Next I collected “The Complete Jack Johnson”, then “The Complete In A Silent Way”, and “The Complete Bitches Brew”.
I think Teo’s pissed because it’s pulled the curtain back showing how he and Miles manipulated hours of tape to construct a product instead of letting the jams speak for themselves.
“Chillin’ With Miles Davis” is a nice companion to the official releases. It’s for those who think they don’t like electric Miles. These tracks are really important in the scheme of things. He is making ambient music, he is anticipating dub. You can tell they were exploring unknown territory. Everyone is really listening and trying to make it work. Miles purposely got musicians to play out of comfort zones. That’s why this is so special.
Miles, inspired by Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, set out to make rock n roll and reach a younger audience. I’m sure he figured it would be easy, after all it was being made by young cats without training, but he found Rock is deceptively simple, and it took him awhile to get his groove on.
I wanted to make an ambient album, I’d read somewhere that Brian Eno had been influenced by “He Loved Him Madly” and used it as a rough guide for texture and pacing in his ambient works, so I started with that and “Guinnevere” (“Bitches Brew” outtake). I made a cd, and while reviewing, realized that no matter how much I love it, “He Loved Him Madly” is too damn long, so I snipped off the first ten minutes, where a natural break occurs and a drum beat is introduced. This differs from the released version in that there are no overdubs or edits (save mine). It’s the original Jam.
“The Big Green Serpent” is another “BB” outtake. it’s a fragment, marred by a slight breakdown with conversation. I cut about 40 seconds.
In order for everything to fit on a cd, I trimmed about a minute no one will miss off the end of “Guinnevere”. Everything else “as is”.
I finished it off with “Go Ahead, John part One” (Jack Johnson outtake), which isn’t all that ambient, but a terrific bluesy closer with great solos by Miles, and John McLaughlin’s stunning guitar.
I heartily disagree with Mr. Macero. It has not destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. This material enhances both Miles catalog and reputation, and in no way casts the artist in a poor light.
Link in comments.
It’s also here
Special Thanks to Willard for turning me onto the music.